Thursday, October 23, 2008

Exorcism poetry recording by Larissa Schmailo

Exorcism poetry recording by Larissa Schmailo
Reviewed by Shannon O’Connor

Larissa Schmailo’s Exorcism breaks open with the brief flourish of “Vow,” and then leads into the rambling ranting of “Warsaw Ghetto,” which is reminiscent of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” “I am the Warsaw Ghetto/ I am the Underground Railroad,” Schmailo’s poetry is accented by guitars and keyboards. The narrator puts herself into places she could never have been, but only imagined, “I am a five year old girl in Jim Crow Mississippi going to school.”

In “Bloom,” Schmailo pays homage to Molly Bloom, the wife of Leopold Bloom, of the novel Ulysses. The poem is crunchy and staccato, “This is December/ and over there’s Christmas/ and we call April Easter cause she makes them March.” She catches the spirit of Ulysses and the breathless voice of Molly’s character in the last chapter of the novel which belongs to her, “Hi, I’m Molly Bloom, blow by my bedroom/ by the window a frozen bird, frozen for weeks/ a weak bird, a dead duck, a gone goose, a pigeon petered out.”

The title track of the CD, “Exorcism,” is a found poem, taken from Group Dynamics, People of the Lie, Hope for Healing Human Evil by M. Scott Peck. The poem deals with the massacre at Mai Lai; it starts with a chant, “This is holy ground, this is holy ground…” The poem is a song, sung in different registers to heighten the tension of the gory truth, “The written orders were ambiguous, the Mai Lai orders were ambiguous, JUST WASTE THE PLACE.” The fact that “Exorcism” is a found poem makes it more dramatic and endearing. This is the truth, as told by someone else. “Exorcism” proves that anything can be a poem. Poetry could be found in textbooks or on cereal boxes.

Schmailo’s lyrics and rhythms bear shades of Jim Morrison and Patti Smith. The unbridled and sometimes psychotic sensuality makes one wonder why the world is so horrible, and is there anything anyone can do about it? If there is, poetry might be the thing to save the world, if we can learn to speak to one another in a language we all can share.

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